Thursday, February 18, 2010

SFPD Vows to Increase Monitoring of Illegal Red Light Turns at Fell and Masonic; Will Begin Pedestrian Stings Too Next Week

The busy, multiple-use, dual signaled crosswalk at Fell and Masonic

Captain Teresa Barrett of SFPD Park Station announced greater monitoring of the hazardous traffic conditions at Fell and Masonic -- including several reports of illegal left turns by motorists -- will begin next week. The operation will be a joint Task Force with SFPD Northern Station involving four or more motorcycle officers at intersections throughout the two adjacent police districts. Officers will ticket motorists who fail to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians in crosswalks and will target drivers who run red lights. The Task Force will be on the streets every other week.

Barrett readily agreed to provide statistics from the Task Force operation with a listing of intersections monitored, times of day, number of citations, and types of infractions. She noted that Tuesday of this week Northern Station cited 22 motorists at intersections in that district.

Barrett previously described the joint effort, reported here in BIKE NOPA, but she re-emphasized the focus on illegal left turns at Fell and Masonic after criticism of SFPD's handling of the collision between a taxi driver and bicyclist in the crosswalk there on February 13th. In that case SFPD decided not to cite the driver. Several pedestrians and cyclists commented on that report, noting the frequency of illegal left-hand turns at the intersection.

In a related development, North of the Panhandle Neighborhood Association (NOPNA) President Jarie Bolander has requested that Captain Barrett and MTA Traffic Engineer Jack Fleck describe what their departments are doing to reduce the hazards at Fell and Masonic during the organization's next general membership meeting on March 18th.

All users of the street, the path, and the sidewalks at Fell and Masonic are encouraged to report both sightings of stepped-up sting operations and illegal left turns to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition or here at BIKE NOPA.


  1. What would help ultimately is if there was a red light to all west bound traffic on Fell while the crosswalk/bike path was green. This would take away the visual cues of moving traffic that drivers seem to respond to while waiting in the turn lane when the rest of traffic moves forward.

  2. @ pylonstudios: Sounds like a solid, common-sense response to the confusion some motorists report travelling west on Fell and wanting to turn on Masonic. Currently there are probably two sets of drivers: regulars who know the street and the left turn and figure they won't get cited and run the red light and drivers unfamiliar with the signal set-up who end-up running the red. (thanks to Marc Caswell for that insight). We need to address the first with more enforcement so the intersection gets a local rep as a highly monitored location; for the second group let's see how MTA weighs in.